Monday, September 19, 2022

The Emery’s Grand Ball

By Susan G Mathis

During the Gilded Age, hundreds of wealthy families from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and a dozen other urban areas fled the sweltering city life for the refreshing beauty of the Thousand Islands. Here they built castles, mansions, and grand summer homes or summered in extravagant resorts such as The New Frontenac Hotel.

Whether in a public or private setting, balls were an important part of their society life, whether in the summer or winter. In the Thousand Islands, it was a great way for the upper class to stay connected to those they already knew or meet other wealthy folks who summered in the islands but lived in cities far and wide.

On the weekend, balls were a special event. Many were public, hosted by local hotels and resorts. A few were private galas, such as the one hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Emery, in August 1902.

Calumet Castle on Calumet Island had the largest privately owned ballroom in all of New York State! The Emerys invited two hundred guests, and the New York Times even reported on the illustrious event.

Guests, including one of Queen Victoria’s former ladies in waiting, arrived at the island’s main dock and were escorted along a scenic walk through the woods up to the castle where they glimpsed the beautiful edifice for the first time. The pink sandstone towers and orange terra-cotta roofs had to be impressive. Massive stone steps led to a large veranda high above the treetops and river for scenic views of the gardens and river beyond. From there they could view the village of Clayton and the imposing New Frontenac Hotel downriver.

Upon entering the castle ballroom, flowers decorated every corner, art nouveau furnishings graced the large room, and the orchestra played from the balcony. The violin, piano, violincello, and cornet blended in perfect harmony as the orchestra played from the inner balcony. The waltzing couples skirted each other as they glided gracefully around the room. Dancers twirled and moved like flowers until late into the night.

After the ball, an elaborate fireworks display from one of the smaller islands in front of Calumet was accompanied by ten thousand Japanese lanterns and hundreds of boats floating on the mighty St. Lawrence River. Indeed, it had to have been an experience that rivaled the balls of the Vanderbilts and others. And Peyton was a part of it all.

Have you been to a ball? Tell me more. Leave your answer or comments on the post below and join me on October 19th for my next post.

About Peyton’s Promise

book 3 of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series

Summer 1902

Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, is her newest. Rachel’s Reunion releases October 7. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are also award winners.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling the world. Visit for more.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your post today and for your ongoing contributions to the blog! I never have been to a ball, nor visited such an elaborate mansion/castle! It sounds beautiful.